It was a fast-moving debate, but candidates tried their best to get their platforms across in point form.
All five MP hopefuls in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding participated in an all-candidates’ forum Wednesday, Sept. 15, at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre.
A range of topics were covered, from fish farms to foreign trade, but two of the issues that garnered the most back-and-forth debate were the housing crunch and the climate crisis.
Green Party incumbent Paul Manly was first to speak and said he’s asked for debate around a “national housing emergency.” He favours stronger regulation to end “predatory” investment, tax evasion and money laundering, and said existing affordable units need to be better protected.
“We need to build more affordable housing, but we cannot build our way out of the crisis unless we deal with the root cause of that crisis,” he said.
People’s Party of Canada candidate Stephen Welton said the problem boils down to “supply and demand,” saying carbon taxes along the supply chain make home building more expensive, and immigration drives up the prices.
“The solution has to be in the private sector,” he said. “The government does not have a good track record of building homes for people.”
Lisa Marie Barron, New Democratic Party candidate, said her party would take “big money” out of housing, implement a 20 per cent foreign buyers’ tax, try to put a stop to money laundering, create national housing strategies and look at “creative” options to build more rental and co-op housing while building 500,000 affordable homes.
Conservative Party candidate Tamara Kronis said her party has “a real plan … not just a promise” to build a million homes. She said the plan outlines how to eliminate money laundering, limit vacant homes and help first-time home buyers.
“We need to build housing that families can afford. Not just more rental units, but more houses, apartments and strata at all price points. We’ve got to keep up with our growing population,” she said, adding that Conservatives would also build infrastructure to support homes, such as hospitals, schools and roads.
Michelle Corfield of the Liberals said her party would take “concrete steps” to help first-time home owners, would build more homes and would support municipalities to build capacity in their permitting departments.
Candidates come up with ways to combat climate change
The topic of climate change also led to lengthier debate with several rebuttals.
Kronis, first to speak on the topic, said the Conservatives would fund climate innovation such as carbon capture and storage, hydrogen fuel and electric vehicle development and also intends to work with provinces to create “personal low-carbon spending accounts” so families can come up with their own ways to reduce their carbon footprints.
She said it will also be important to go after “big polluters” on the world stage.
“While Canada needs to be a climate [action] leader, we can’t do it alone,” Kronis said.
Manly said Canada is a “climate laggard” with the “worst record” of G7 nations on climate, pointing to the country’s per-capita emissions. He said Canada should follow the U.K.’s model of a “carbon budget” and called the recent emissions accountability act an “unaccountability act.”
Barron said the act isn’t what the NDP would have created, but said her party pushed for more aggressive targets and greater accountability and said that’s an example of the work her party is doing in Ottawa.
“While the Conservatives continue to not agree whether climate change is real and Trudeau’s Liberals have bought a pipeline instead of actually addressing the targets that they’ve set, Jagmeet Singh is committed to lowering greenhouse gas emissions, ending oil subsidies … and creating just transitions for workers,” Barron said.
Corfield said the Liberals are committed to reaching 2030 targets and net-zero emissions by 2050 and along the way they would be “creating green jobs and ensuring clean air and water for our kids and grandkids.”
Corfield said Canada needs a “proper transition plan” to move away from fossil fuels. She pointed to a recent analysis from an SFU economist that graded the Liberals’ climate plan better than other parties when factoring in expected effectiveness and cost.
Manly responded that the Greens “listen to scientists” and the latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.
“They’re saying that we need to end all subsidies for fossil fuels. We need to ban fracking. We need to phase out … the export of coal,” he said. “We need to convert all of our energy production to renewables, geothermal, tidal, wind, solar and hydro and we need to do it fast.”
Welton said there does need to be research into new technologies, but said for now, electric vehicles and solar panels are “fake solutions” while governments “penalize” people with carbon taxes.
He said the PPC isn’t denying climate change, but said people aren’t about to die.
“We do not agree with the climate hysteria that is going on, we understand the difference between climate and weather and we do not believe the carbon taxes, just transferring money around, is the way to deal with this situation,” he said.
Candidates ask for votes on election day
When it was time for closing remarks, Barron spoke first, listing child care, affordable housing, pharmacare, climate action and clean jobs, and reconciliation as some priorities.
“This time, vote for a stronger voice in Parliament. Vote for the party that has a proven track record of fighting for you,” she said.
Welton said people need to get back working and living their lives. He said other candidates spent the evening talking about ways to tax people and take money from one person to give it to another.
“[They are] basically arguing how far to the left they all are, and they’re all playing this con game that we’re all about to die from either COVID or climate change unless we do what they say,” he said.
Corfield said if elected she would pursue federal investments that would support families, children and seniors, help with pandemic economic recovery and community infrastructure and would fight climate change.
“Nanaimo-Ladysmith needs an active voice in Ottawa with the government in power who can advocate in the interest of the residents in this riding … I will have a seat at the table with decision-makers,” she said.
Manly asked voters to send him back to Ottawa, where he said he’s been working hard, listening to concerns of constituents and finding solutions for them. His priority issues, he said, will be affordable housing and the homelessness crisis, improving long-term care, local economic resiliency, reconciliation and “bold action on climate change.”
Last word went to Kronis, who said the “Liberals, NDP and Greens’ high tax, over-spending ways” will drive up the cost of living, keeping bills and taxes high and home ownership out of reach. She said her party’s plan to secure jobs and the economy will make life more affordable.
“Canada’s Conservatives are the only ones who can stop Justin Trudeau,” she said.
The federal election is Sept. 20.